Monday, November 17, 2008

Newport, Balboa and Huntington beaches, California

If you want to really catch some sun in Southern California, you need to hit one of the many beaches. So to do just that today, we visited Newport, Balboa and Huntington beaches. Newport and Balboa beaches are located on the peninsula that protects Newport Bay and the harbor. We stopped about half way down the peninsula and walked the beach near the Balboa pier. The beaches here are large, clean, and extend as far as you can see – and they are very beautiful. On the non-ocean side of the vast beach are homes that face the beach. There is a sidewalk promenade between the line of homes and the sand, which is a great place to walk, bike or skate and see the beautiful homes up-close, while also enjoying expansive views of the beach and ocean.

All of this sun may make you thirsty, so if you want to relive some of your college years (i.e. a place that smells of beer, has very loud music, and everything is somewhat sticky) or experience a very casual beach bar, then head to Cabo's, adjacent to Balboa pier on the sidewalk promenade. This place offers up-close viewing of the people passing by, as well as the beach and park at the entrance of the pier. We enjoyed a very strong margarita, beer, and some surprisingly very good nachos. Also in this area are several small gift shops and some non-college type restaurants.

On the other side of the peninsula is Newport Bay. This is an active harbor lined by expensive homes. There are several fee parking lots throughout the peninsula as well as metered parking ($1 for an hour) where you can park and get out and explore the homes, boats, and entire area.

Heading north on the Coastal Highway (Hwy 1) to Huntington Beach, you will find the quintessential California beach - full of surfers, sand volleyball courts and large beautiful beaches where you can walk for miles. The Coastal Highway offers great views of the ocean and there are several fee parking areas that are right on the beach.

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